The wine comes from south-west France; Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh is located in the same production area as Madiran, not a million miles from Toulouse, the nearest landmark to the east. The Madiran vineyards are well known for their red wines (made from the Tannat grape) whereas Pacherenc du Vic Bilh is relatively unknown; the simple rule is, Madiran’s the name for the red wines of the region, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh is the name for the whites. Pacherenc’ is from an ancient word meaning ‘vines’ whilst Vic-Bilh relates to the ‘supporting stakes’, we’re told. Are we any wiser? Probably not but getting to know this wine a little better will bring rewards.
A series of hand picked selections take place from the end of October to the end of December ensuring the sweet grapes are carefully picked at the optimum time and that the wine takes on its wonderful apricot and candied fruit aromas and flavours. As with all top sweeties, having enough acidity to balance the sugar is the key; happily Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh sweeties have a crisp, zippy acidity so there are no cloying sugars on the finish of this Southern Belle.
If you see a dry version of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh on your local shelf grab it. Made from the same grape varieties, it’s much lighter than its sweet counterpart but, as the grapes were picked during August and September it carries an extra kick of acidity. Intriguingly, dry ‘PVB’ still boasts the grapes’ attractive floral aromas.
So, back to the sweet wine … ignore the complicated label, clock the wonderful golden colour through the clear bottle and pour yourself a glass of this cracking sweetie … ‘bet you’ll pour a second!
John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer,cspeaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John’s website at www.johndownes.com. Follow him on Twitter @JOHNDOWNESMW
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